What can Obamacare teach the UK healthcare system?

Finally ‘Obamacare’ has been made law in the USA and now more people in the USA will be able to access good quality healthcare without discrimination on age, sex, gender, race or disease. In the UK however healthcare discrimination is still very evident against our older (and younger) people, people suffering from mental health problems and people  with disabilities. A focus upon discrimination is interesting in that it helps us to explore some of the problems within the UK healthcare system which focuses more on meeting targets and measuring effectiveness by throughput e.g. bed usage, immunisation, screening, mortality rates etc. In fact some of my colleagues how found themselves to be criticised for keeping people alive in that the patient spends longer in the bed/service than they would have otherwise done. If we are so obsessed with  collecting numbers perhaps there should be more focus upon reducing staff sickness rates for all the burnt out  staff who can no longer fight the system, or the numbers of readmissions for people who were discharged too soon? 

To be fair efficiency is an important part of any system in order for it work effectively but sometimes  in the UK I think we lose sight of what our healthcare system is about. While the USA have changed their focus  to ensure that discrimination does not affect any person’s ability to access healthcare for as long as they need it, in the UK, we appear to be creating so much bureaucratic red tape that people can no longer find a way in to the system. If we are fortunate to be able to access treatment  by getting into the system via a hospital bed or outpatient appointment we then have to be satisfied with becoming a target for not falling or catching an infection ( while we are receiving said treatment) or for being fixed/cured within a certain time frame. If we do not meet these targets (and this is where people are blamed for but usually have no control over what happens to them once in the system e.g. bed blockers sorry delayed discharges), them people no longer matter because essentially they do not make the figures/ targets look good. 

I for one am in favour of the Care Quality Commission  for trying to see through this  healthcare maze that we have created in the UK but  even they are criticised for not measuring the right thing at the right time.  Perhaps this is not thier fault because they are commissioned to measure what the government wants them to measure. Maybe, just maybe, the  UK government are asking them to measure the wrong thing?


4 thoughts on “What can Obamacare teach the UK healthcare system?

  1. lol! like the one that says – people in work already have health insurance – err yes?

  2. You wrote “them people” instead of “those people” use proper English…LOL

  3. In 1971…I had a cholecystectomy done at Bury General (I was 21 years old, and my consultant explained to me that the birth control pill was to blame) I spent two weeks in the hospital, and then four weeks at a convalescent home in Cheshire. The care I received from both my surgeon and nursing staff was outstanding, and I returned to work only nine weeks after my operation. I truly believed that the National Health System was the best in the world.

    A couple of years later my job took me to America, and I married and settled down in Atlanta. I really didn’t care for the US healthcare system feeling that it was mostly a “for profit” business, and whenever I had to visit the doctor’s office I felt that I was a potential “new car” or “bigger house” instead of a patient. Even with my health insurance offsetting the major medical costs there was still the ever increasing deductables, co-pays, and the dirty little secret that Blue Cross, Blue Shield health insurers don’t tell you until you are out of the hospital “the customary, and reasonable” fees that they refuse to pay the difference of if your provider charges higher than the average doctor in the same area. That could be the price of a couple of months of mortgage payments unless you had planned for your emergency upfront.

    In 2004 my 72 yr old mother was rushed into Wythenshawe Hospital with stomach pain, and my sister emailed me, advising me to come home as mum had been admitted to hospital. I flew back to Manchester, and discovered my mother in the Intensive Care Unit. NO ONE and I mean NO ONE could tell me what was wrong with her other than she came in with a stomach ache. She was in the hospital for three weeks, and caught bacterial pneumonia, put on life support, but didn’t recover and finally removed from life support. The family were stunned! Here was a strong healthy woman who hadn’t had a days sickness in her life suddenly gone. What went wrong??? Well, the first thing I noticed was every nurse at my mum’s bed spoke english as a second language, and communication with them was difficult. In fact the only word I understood was “bolus”. Secondly, the doctor/healthcare provider who attended my mum only saw her once a day, and seemed way too busy to be able to do a good job with any of the patients in her care. At one point during her treatment I requested a family interview with this doctor, and she had us wait three hours before she finally got it together to be able to speak to us about our mother. However, she really had no info to offer other than “we don’t know what it is, but your mother is seriously ill, and we are doing all we can for her.” I left the hospital confused, and seriously feeling that the National Health I left behind had gone down the toilet. Maybe there just arn’t enough people working in the UK anymore to pay for the cost of free medical care, who knows? But, if I had known how sad the system had become, I would have willingly paid for private health insurance for my mum, so she could have had better care, maybe she’d still be alive today.

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